Annual football coaches clinic has many local ties

Published 6:59 am Saturday, February 15, 2014

BILOXI — The first full day of activity at the 51st annual Nike Gulf Coast Coaches Clinic had a definite Pearl River County flavor.

Pearl River Community College head coach William Jones and his defensive coordinator Willie Mack Garza both were featured speakers.

Garza spoke to several hundred attendees on various secondary coverages.

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He came to PRCC along with Jones last year, after serving for a season as the defensive backs coach at the University of Southern California.

“We always strive to have experienced and knowledgeable coaches like coach Garza speak at our clinic,” Lindy Callahan, who has directed the event for all 51 years, said. “He has been well respected for his knowledge of the game for many years.”

Garza, who has almost two decades of experience in major college coaching, spent 2009 as the defensive backs coach at Tennessee. The Volunteers were 12th nationally in both pass defense and pass efficiency defense.

He then followed Lane Kiffin from Tennessee to USC. He resigned suddenly just before the 2010 season, citing personal reasons.

Before that, he was at North Dakota State for 4 years (2005-09), handling the defensive backs the first season and then serving as the defensive coordinator the final 3 seasons.

Garza began his coaching career at Texas, his alma mater, as a graduate assistant working with the cornerbacks and special teams for 3 years (1994-96). The Longhorns played in the 1994 Sun Bowl, 1995 Sugar Bowl and 1997 Fiesta Bowl.

He then was the defensive backs coach at Western Michigan for 4 seasons (1997-2000). In 2000, the 9-3 Broncos were 13th nationally in pass defense and played in the Mid-American Conference championship game. He spent the next 3 years (2001-03) coaching the cornerbacks at TCU. In 2002, 2-time all-league cornerback Jason Goss tied the school season record with 8 interceptions. The Horned Frogs won the 2002 Conference USA title and played in 3 bowls (2001 Bowl, 2002 Liberty Bowl and 2003 Fort Worth Bowl).

He was the secondary coach at Tarleton State in 2004.

Garza was a 4-year (1988, 1990-92) starter at cornerback and safety at Texas. He was a Freshman All-American and the Southwest Conference Newcomer of the Year in 1988. The Longhorns went 10-2 and played in the Cotton Bowl in 1990.

He received his bachelor’s degree in social work from Texas in 1993 and is working on a master’s degree in the same field.

He earned prep All-American and 3-time All-State honors as a running back and defensive back at Refugio (Texas).

Local coaching staffs from Picayune, Pearl River Central and Poplarville were all in attendance for the clinic over the three day span.

Also, Bassfield head coach Lance Mancuso and his Yellow Jackets staff were also in attendance.

Mancuso is a Pearl River County native and former head coach at Poplarville. Former Hornet assistant Troy Davis is also a member of the Bassfield staff.

“We have always appreciated the great football played in Pearl River County,” Callahan concluded.

The clinic this year featured Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney, Georgia head coach Mark Richt and Missouri head coach Gary Pinkel.